A SECRET decision to strip vital cancer scans from Oxford’s Churchill Hospital could be delayed by national health chiefs as public outrage reaches the highest echelons of power.

NHS England’s controversial move to award a new contract to provide PET-CT scans to private firm InHealth would ‘undoubtedly’ cause harm to patients according to doctors at Oxford University Hospitals (OUH), with the scanners being moved off site in any new deal.

Now amid further criticism over a lack of transparency, NHS bosses could be forced to put the brakes on the decision to allow for further public consultation.

Read again: Churchill 'loses' contract for PET-CT scanning

County councillor Susanna Pressel, who also sits on the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee (HOSC), had contacted NHSE directly over the issue.

She said: “I have been inundated with emails by people who are understandably angry about the ludicrous idea of outsourcing the two scanners from the Churchill for a proposed period of 10 years.

“Fortunately, no contract has yet been signed.

“NHSE has reluctantly agreed to engage in some ‘public engagement’ first.”

NHSE has argued it held a 30-day public engagement on the positron emission computerised tomography scanning (PET-CT) procurement between January and February 2016, however with the new contract likely to involve a significant change to the service, further engagement could be required.

Read also: 'Extremely concerned': Victoria Prentis writes to CEO of NHS England over privatised PET-CT scan deal

After raising concerns over the behind-closed-doors nature of the process Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds said on Twitter: “The 'consultation' on privatisation of the PET-CT Scan service in Oxford seems to have amounted to a notice on a website for just one month, which failed to spell out that it could be privatised.”

Oxford Mail:

Speaking yesterday Ms Dodds added: “NHS England do need to be clear about what they are doing.

“There are wider issues here about how the health service is run and how accountable they are to local people.”

NHSE is currently carrying out a national re-tendering of PET CT scanning services, which give doctors a highly accurate 3-D image of the patient’s body, and are often considered vital in diagnosis and also in gauging how well treatment is working.

Read again: Radioactive patients from cancer centre 'could poison schoolchildren'

The Churchill, which is considered a world leader in the area currently has two leased scanners which help in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients from across the Thames Valley.

InHealth's bid would include offering the scans from Oxford, Swindon and Milton Keynes.

The move to outsource the scanning service has been widely condemned by doctors, MPs from all parties, health campaigners and patients.

Oxford Mail:

Previously Nick Maynard, a surgeon at OUH trust, tweeted: “If InHealth take over our PET-CT service it will undoubtedly cause clinical harm to our patients. This cannot be allowed to proceed.

“Let us be absolutely clear – if this goes ahead, it will lead to patient harm.”

Last week bosses at OUH also admitted they had concerns over quality and patient safety over any new service which would see patients have to travel to other sites to have the scans.

The matter has now reach the top of the NHS and the wers in Westminster with MPs demanding answers from the chief executive of the NHS, while calls for the Secretary of State Matt Hancock to intervene have also been made.

Oxford Mail:

Read again: Patients raise fears over privatisation of vital cancer scans

Banbury MP Victoria Prentis has written to NHSE head Simon Stevens saying she was ‘extremely concerned’, while Lib Dem MP Layla Moran and Conservative MP Ed Vaizey have also urged NHS England to halt its decision.

While Shadow Health Secretary, John Ashworth called directly on Matt Hancock to 'urgently step in' to halt the process.

NHSE has been contact for a comment.

The issue will be discussed at a meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee next month.

The committee, made up of local councillors, has the power to refer NHSE’s decision to the Health Secretary if it sees fit.